Vituj finally coming around

This season promised to be a great one for U senior gymnast Melissa Vituj. She was coming into her 2004 campaign on the strength of three outstanding years for which she was honored as an All-American eight times: three first-team floor exercise selections, one first-team balance beam, one second-team balance beam, two second-team vault, and one second-team all around.

She was also named team co captain and co-MVP at the end of last season.

With all of these accolades preceding Vituj onto the apparatus came the added pressure of improving upon them each meet. This pressure might help to explain why Vituj has, by her own standards, struggled a little this season.

She had a fall in four of the first six meets, and wasn’t really able to put together four solid events in one night.

“She’d been putting a lot of pressure on herself, so we talked about relaxing and just enjoying this last year,” Marsden said. “I think it really helped a lot.”

Indeed it did.

In the Red Rocks’ last meet at Arizona State, with co-captain Annabeth Eberle sidelined by injury, Vituj came up huge.

She turned in an all-around score of 39.650 that included the first 10.0 of her career. Her scores were good enough for second place in the all-around, and first on the vault (9.925) and floor (10.0).

“With Annabeth out, Mel really stepped up and finally put together the meet she’s been expecting all season,” Marsden said.

Her season average in the all around had been 39.046, which any good mathematician will tell you is more than sixth-tenths of a point lower than her score at ASU. That sixth-tenths improvement might seem insignificant to some, but not to Arizona State, which lost the meet to the Utes by half that margin.

Vituj’s performance in Tempe was easily the best of her season, and it was also only .025 points less than her career high in the all around.

With at least five meets left, Vituj still has plenty of time to turn around her senior campaign. She has shown flashes of brilliance in every meet-especially her bars dismount, the triple twisting flyaway.

“Nobody else in the country is doing it, and only a few gymnasts in the world have done this dismount,” Marsden said. “She stuck it at Arizona State, and only took a little step at Michigan. She hasn’t missed it yet.”

The only thing holding her back from bigger all-around scores has been small mistakes, which Marsden feels are the result of Vituj putting too much pressure on herself.

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